While the Soviet Union is now just a memory, there is still a lot in Moscow to remind tourists what it was like--and why everyone is thankful that it has been consigned to the history books. The Kremlin, which served as the seat of communist government, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An imposing walled-in complex of palaces, cathedrals and government offices, it's a familiar landmark steeped in Moscow's rich and bloody history. Inside the fortified city, you can find architecture in huge proportions--which tells you something about this former government's large ego. The Uspensky Sobor is a massive cathedral where tsars were once crowned, while the Armoury Museum is home to many of the treasures in Russia's immense store, including Faberge Eggs and the 180-carat diamond once presented to Catherine the Great.
Your visit to Moscow should rightfully begin at Red Square. Bounded on all sides by the Kremlin, the brightly colored onion-shaped domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, Lenin's Mausoleum and the State Historical Museum, Red Square can easily eat up an entire day because there are so many historic sites to see. Culture in megadoses may also be consumed in the art, sculpture and paintings found in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and in the Tretyakov Gallery. Another attraction that should not be missed, if you can get a ticket, is the Bolshoi Circus, the oldest circus show in the city. You can get most places via the huge and complex Moscow Metro, which is more than just an efficient transport system--the ornately decorated and lavishly painted stations once served as bomb shelters as well.
Fine dining in Moscow is an amazing and amazingly expensive experience--if the doormen of the elitny establishments will allow you entry. Top gourmet spots include Cafe Pushkin at Pushkin Square, Noev Kovcheg, famous for its spicy basturma, and Aist. For a taste of Russian food without such a hefty bill, check out Matrioshka or Moo Moo. At One Red Square you can eat the same food that was served to the tsars.
The GUM shopping complex in Red Square is one shopping site not to be missed--but you might want to take a look at the nosebleed-level price tags before you buy. Okhoktny Ryad is home to high-street fashion, while Tverskaya Ulitsa is a hip shopping street lined with expensive boutiques. Also check out the Ulitsa Arbat, a 1-kilometer-long pedestrian street in the center of Moscow, for interesting souvenirs and street music played with typical Russian passion.
11 Malaya Dmitrovka
Lavrushinskii pereulok, 10
Tverskoi bul'var, 26a
Pokrovka Ulitsa, 47